Lothar's Build Log R0.1 RC1

Jul 12 2008

Well, I told you that I would keep you all updated in with my new frontend build.  So here's the first report card.   As you will recall, there were three goals I wanted to achieve with this setup:

  1. Run Mythtv (replace the old frontend)
  2. Store all (or most) of my DVDs on the HDD
  3. Virtualization

So far, I've accomplished... pretty much nothing.  The system itself is built, but even that was not painless.  All the parts went in just fine, but for whatever reason I was having problems with my RAM.  It would not POST the first time I powered it up.  Eventually I ripped out one of the sticks and then it worked ok.  Then I swapped the slots that the RAM was in and it powered up with both sticks.  After that, it all powered up smoothly.

For the base OS I decided to go with Fedora 9 x64 so that I could get the most out of my nice processor.  The only big problem I ran into here is that Adobe does not have a 64 bit version of their flash player for Linux.  That sucks.  In the end, I decided to switch to the 32bit version of Fedora 9 even though I probably won't need the flash player much.  I may switch back before all is said and done.

Once the OS was in place, I decided to jump right into loading Mythtv to take care of goal #1.  This is where I ran into my first software issue (other than the flash player).  I'm using the atrpms.net repository to install Mythtv from because they have packages pre-compiled, so installation is as simple as # yum install mythtv.  The problem was that the dependant packages needed by Mythtv conflicted with what was already installed on the system.  So I (tried) to upgrade the system with # yum upgrade.  I quickly found out that you want to upgrade the system before adding the atrpms.net repository because, again, the packages conflicted.  So I quickly removed the additional repository, updated the system and then added the repository back in.  Once that was done, Mythtv was quickly installed and running. 

Which leads to my next problem...   Mythtv was up and running... slowly.  We're talking about 0.2 fps here with live tv and recorded shows.  Obviously the default video driver wasn't going to cut it so I attempted to load one of three available ATI/AMD drivers.  First was the closed source fglrx.  This one installed ok but when it came time to run it at reboot I was given an error message about an unrecognized symbol.  Then I tried the x11-drv-radeonhd driver from the Fedora repositories.  Turns out that the released version in the repository does not have support for the 780G graphics.  I later learned that there is support for it if you get the source code directly from the radeonhd website.  After trying out this driver, I found that it does not have any video acceleration, etc so this was no better than the basic vesa driver.  Finally I tried the other open source driver: x11-drv-ati which also did not have any acceleration (that I saw anyway) but at least it installed directly from the repositories, no compiling needed on my part.  So at this point I can't get the graphics driver working properly enough to replace my current frontend.

I'm skipping goal #2 for now because if I can't get #1 working there's no point in spending the time ripping movies.

While I'm trying to figure out what to do with the drivers, I decided to mess around with Virtualization.  I'm not going to go into too much of the detail here right now.  I'm still messing around with it.  Maybe it'll become a guide later once I know more what I'm doing.  For now I'll just say that I've virtualized Fedora 8 (which doesn't recognize my 640GB hard drive so I can't install it Yell), Ubuntu 8.04 LiveCD, and Windows Vista.  Ubuntu and Vista usually recognize my hard drive but not always.  I do like the pause button though.  It allows you to pause the state of your virtual machine and start up there later as though it was running the whole time.  I have run into issues where clicking the pause button kills the whole virtual environment.  Another problem I ran into is that the hardware isn't perfectly virtualized because the video drivers did not recognize my IGP.  Hopefully this is something that I can fix.  The final issue with virtualization at the moment is that you connect to the virtual machines via VNC so I don't think there's any chance of being able to virtually watch a Blu-Ray disk...  Might need to consider a dual-boot environment after all.  I can still run virtualized Windows withing Linux for certain apps but will probably need to boot into native Windows for any gaming or hardware video acceleration.

So here's the grades:

  1. Mythtv: D+ -Installed ok but video drivers need work
  2. DVDs: N/A -not attempted until other issues are worked out
  3. Virtualization: C -It works to some degree but there is still a lot to be done before I'll be happy with it.

I hope that some of you are finding this interesting.  I'll be sure to add more info on this build as it comes up.

As always, please feel free to drop a comment in the forums.

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